Shot in 2015 as Undercover Vs Undercover, but not seeing a release until last year in its homeland. The directorial debut of veteran screenwriters Frankie Tam and Philip Lui, Undercover Punch And Gun features a solid cast of Hong Kong action stars. So why did it sit on a shelf for so long?

Wu (Philip Ng, Sifu vs. Vampire) is an undercover cop who’s gotten a bit too into his role. To the point of becoming involved with the daughter of the drug lord, he’s supposed to be bringing in. But when Bob (Lam Suet) is killed in a drug deal gone spectacularly wrong, Wu finds himself the gang’s new boss. Madame Tong (Carrie Ng, City On Fire, Zombiology: Enjoy Yourself Tonight) has her doubts about him. But allows him to take over anyway.

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Along with the gang, though, he’s inherited Bob’s debt to Ha (Andy On, Abduction, Ride On). Ha, is a former special agent turned smuggler who operates from a cargo ship on the high seas. He wants Bob’s chemist to complete his operation. His only allies are an informer Tiger (Vanness Wu, Ip Man 4: The Finale) and Eva (Wenjuan Feng) a former squad mate of Ha’s who has a score to settle.

It took seven writers to come up with the script for Undercover Punch And Gun. Tam, Liu, and five others. The result feels like a note somebody jotted down while watching an Asian action film marathon. It’s not so much a story as a collection of plot devices used to hang some action scenes on. It’s reminiscent of the action films Hong Kong pumped out in the 90s in that regard.

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The action scenes themselves are well done. Philip Ng pulls double duty as star and action director here. And does a much better job than his last outing in that role, the abysmal Zombie Fight Club. Undercover Punch And Gun piles it on here. From the hijacked drug deal at the beginning to the brawl on Ha’s ship at the end.

The film’s lack of budget somewhat lets it down here, though. We don’t have the one-fighter versus a small army-type scene we’re used to. And there’s no sense that the ship is in any danger during the climax of Undercover Punch And Gun. A couple of bad CGI explosions and a bit of smoke, that’s it. See the shipboard fight during the typhoon at the end of The Brink for an example of how to sell a ship in danger.

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If you don’t mind the nonexistent story. And if Tiger’s annoying “comic relief” doesn’t get on your nerves, Undercover Punch And Gun should make an acceptable watch.

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